Smokers are 80 percent less likely to suffer from novel coronavirus than non-smokers, according to a French study that prompted researchers to start studying giving nicotine patches to everyone.
Earlier this month, researchers at the Pitié-Salpêtrière hospital in Paris found that only 5 percent of 482 Covid-19 patients who came to them between 28 February and 9 April were frequent smokers, reports Al Arabiya.
"Compared to the French general population, the Covid-19 population exhibited a significantly weaker current daily smoker rate by 80.3 percent for outpatients and by 75.4 percent for inpatients," the study, led by Zahir Amoura at Pitié Salpétrière University Hospital and Jean-Pierre Changeux, emeritus professor of neuroscience at France's Pasteur Institute, read.
"Thus, current smoking status appears to be a protective factor against the infection by SARS-CoV-2," both researchers hypothesized.
In their research, both Amoura and Changeux clarified that nicotine found in cigarettes may affect whether or not the molecules of the Covid-19 coronavirus would bind themselves to receptors in the body.
However, both the US Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the World Health Organization have noted that smokers, as well as those with diabetes, heart disease, or chronic lung disease, are at a higher risk for serious complications to develop.
Earlier studies at the start of the coronavirus outbreak indicated that in Wuhan, the city in China where coronavirus originated, smokers who have been diagnosed with the disease were 14 times more likely to experience more serious symptoms.
Nicotine binds to receptors in the body, just like coronavirus molecules. Researchers are looking into how nicotine interferes with Covid-19 molecules seeking to bind to the same receptors.
"There appears to be a protective effect of smoking on the risk of Covid-19 infection. This is a somewhat counter-intuitive finding which at this stage is not understood. Because of the urgent need for a therapeutics under the current conditions, we together published a hypothesis about it, an approach which is not currently done in biology but frequently in physics," Changeux said in an interview with the Human Brain Project.